Sir Alex Ferguson with the Scotland Homeless World Cup squad in 2003.

United's connection with the Homeless World Cup

Friday 03 July 2020 20:55

The Homeless World Cup are hosting a day of fundraising and events on Sunday 5 July, and it is an organisation with a strong connection to Manchester United.

The World Cup, which was due to hold its 18th edition in Finland until being called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was inaugurated back in 2003 and brings together more than 450 players from over 40 countries around the world, all of which have faced homelessness and social marginalisation.

Although the competition will not be held this year, the charity will instead host a day celebrating and showcasing their work, which continues outside the boundaries of their annual competition. Supporters can attend the event online, and for free, to read compelling stories, join in some fun challenges and take their seat in a virtual stadium.

In 2003, Scotland's Homeless World Cup squad were invited to the Aon Training Complex, where they met Sir Alex Ferguson.

United have played a big part in sourcing and training players for the competition in the past. Louis Garvey, a coach with our Football in the Community programme, has coached England's Homeless World Cup team at The Cliff since the inaugural tournament, which was held in the Austrian city of Graz in 2003.

It has also received the backing off several greats at the club over the years. Scotland's team had the opportunity to visit the Aon Training Complex seventeen years ago, where they got to meet Sir Alex Ferguson. Our former boss has since developed a close relationship with the charity, Street Soccer Scotland, who provide football-themed training and personal development opportunities for socially disadvantaged groups.

Sir Bobby Charlton and former United defender Rio Ferdinand have both shown their support for England's effort in recent years. Sir Bobby attended the 2009 running of the competition in Milan, while Rio spoke about its importance in 2010.

"It is inspirational in using the power of football to unite people living on the edge of society, to give them a fresh opportunity to prove to themselves, to prove to the world that they are no different than anyone else," the former Red said.

Even the King himself, Eric Cantona, gave his voice for the official trailer for the tournament in 2011, which was held in Paris.

During his time as a Red, Rio Ferdinand supported the Homeless World Cup in 2006 and 2010.

Supporting vulnerable members of the community remains a key cornerstone at United. Former Red and 1977 FA Cup winner Lou Macari has established his own foundation, which has a homeless shelter for rough sleepers in Hanley, near Stoke-on-Trent.

Last Christmas, Marcus Rashford launched his ‘In the Box Christmas Campaign’, in partnership with Selfridges Manchester Exchange. The project supported three of the city’s biggest homeless shelters in Barnabus, Centrepoint, and Lifeshare, with members of the public filling shoeboxes of essential items that were distributed to adults who were most in need during the festive season.

Sir Bobby Charlton visited the 2009 Homeless World Cup which was held in Milan, Italy.

And during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Manchester United Foundation have delivered up to 30,000 food and drink items to local groups and charities dealing with the impact of the pandemic, including Stretford Food Bank and Salford Royal Hospital, while Rashford has continued to use his status, forcing a government u-turn on providing free school meals for children during the holidays.

To find more information about Homeless World Cup Day on 5 July, or to make a donation, please visit